Politics

Paul Martin, former prime minister, welcomes signing of Canada-EU trade deal

Europe's decision to sign the Canada-EU trade agreement shows it chose not to shut its borders despite the tumult caused by the Brexit vote, former prime minister Paul Martin said Monday.

Martin says agricultural producers' fears normal when it comes to trade agreements

Former prime minister Paul Martin waits to speak at the Quebec Oil and Gas Producers conference, Monday, October 31, 2016 in Montreal. Martin said if CETA failed it would have sent a "very negative" message to the global community. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Europe's decision to sign the Canada-EU trade agreement shows it chose not to shut its borders despite the tumult caused by the Brexit vote, former prime minister Paul Martin said Monday.

"For Canada, it's very important — and also for Europe too," he told a news conference in Montreal.

"It's a symbol that Europe isn't closing its doors after [the British decision to leave the EU]."

The former Liberal prime minister said any other outcome would have sent a "very negative" message to the global community, although he pointed out the deal still needs to be ratified.

Canada and the European Union signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, on Sunday.

When questioned on the concerns of some Quebec agricultural producers who fear the repercussions of the deal, Martin said some discord is normal when it comes to trade agreements.

"There are always consequences to these agreements and the government will act" to compensate people, he said.

Martin was attending a conference hosted by a Quebec oil and gas association.